MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Mozart’s Messiah

Lee Mills with Seattle Symphony

I’m looking forward to this program with Seattle Symphony — and to the next chance to hear associate conductor Lee Mills in action, having been deeply impressed by his last-minute stand-in performance for an incredibly challenging program in November, which featured a world premiere by Hannah Lash and a rarity from Amy Beach.

Regarding Mozart’s take on Handel, Lindsay Kemp offers a helpful summary here of the profound effect that Baron van Swieten’s collection of Baroque music had on the composer. Van Swieten held private concerts in Vienna to explore choral music from the past and “invited Mozart to prepare new performing editions of a group of Handel oratorios…Doubtless Mozart was glad of the money, but, far from being workaday, the job he carried out on the scores is careful and considered, clearly born out of respect for Handel’s skill and creative personality.”

Kemp writes: “His main objective was to recast Handel’s music — whose original Baroque orchestral line-up of strings, oboes and bassoon and occasional brass and timpani would have seemed a little thin to Classical ears — for an up-to-date ensemble which added flutes, clarinets and horns. He thus brings a warm Viennese glow to the music, but in places Mozart also added his own gloss to events, as for instance in Messiah when he adds a contrapuntal shadow to the stark unison accompaniment of ‘The people that walked in darkness’…..”

A performance of Mozart’s complete version:

Filed under: Handel, Mozart, Seattle Symphony


%d bloggers like this: